Ski areas in New Zealand are even more excited about the imminent start of the 2021 season following a major storm which brought big snow accumulations to many of the country’s ski areas.
Some have optimistically dubbed the size and timing of the snowfall the “storm of the century” and say opening conditions are the best they’ve been in a decade or more.
“We have received more snow at higher elevations than we first thought. Some drifts up to 4m (13 feet) in depth on the summit.? The lower mountain has maintained a 30-40cm pack which had some rain events on it during the storm.? Opening day is just around the corner June 11th, let’s go!” said a spokesperson for Mt Hutt, which will be the country’s first full area to open next week. Cardrona is due to follow the next day.
The news wasn’t all good though as the snow was wet at lower elevations and ended with icy conditions leading Mt Hutt management to report they needed to chip away ice lying up to 50cm thick on lifts and other machinery – although they say that won’t delay opening plans for the 11th.
The precipitation also fell as heavy rain lower down the mountains leading to some flooding damage, including the access road getting partly washed away at Mt Lyford.
There’s also a warning that the weather has also created prime avalanche conditions in the back country.
Happy Valley ski area at Whakapapa, Mt Ruapehu on the country’s North Island will be the first ski area in New Zealand to open for 2021, this Saturday.? It is a beginner/snow play area with an all-weather snowmaking machine which opens nearly a month before the main ski area.